If you’re traveling to an area you’ve never been to before, it can be easy to stand out like a sore thumb as an obvious tourist. While there's nothing inherently wrong with being a tourist, there are some negative stereotypes associated with it. Plus, standing out as a tourist who doesn’t know what is going on can make you a target for scams or getting your stuff stolen. If you’re traveling somewhere and want to learn how to blend in as a local, there are some things you can keep in mind.
Here are five ways to look like a local when traveling and five things that will make you seem like a tourist.
10 TOURIST: TRAVELING IN A SLOW-MOVING GROUP
If you're with a large group while traveling, you’re likely going to stand out and read like a tourist. This is especially true if you’re visiting a large city, whether in the United States or in another country. Being in a big group makes it harder to move around quickly which means you’ll likely get in the way of locals who are able to swiftly and effectively get around. Sometimes, you have to travel in a group, but when you do so, try to be aware of how much space you are taking up in an area and considerate.
9 LOCAL: DRESS TO BLEND IN WITH THE AREA
As far as looking like a local is concerned, it’s important to dress to fit in with everyone else. This is why it’s hard to say one specific way to dress as each country and city is different. For example, if you're traveling to New York City you would want to choose stylish and sleek clothes in dark colors as you won’t be likely to stand out this way. However, if you’re in southern California Fire, you’ll want to dress more casually and sporty but still put together.
8 TOURIST: TRYING TO HAGGLE PRICES
Depending on where you are traveling to, you might be going somewhere where there are a lot of local markets and vendors. Many large cities will have markets or people selling things on the streets.
If you’re spending a lot of time haggling, especially if you’re in a foreign country, this will definitely make you read as a tourist. This is also a practice that won’t necessarily be appreciated and can be seen as rude.
7 LOCAL: EAT AT LOCAL SPOTS
When going to a new city, it can be easy to head to the most touristy locations. You’ve likely heard about these places. Trying to find the best places to eat can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s understandable to go to the easiest places to find.
However, eating at known tourist places will have you reading as a tourist. It’s better to do your research into the area and find lesser-known but highly-rated local places. If you can, try to ask someone who lives in the area for their recommendations.
6 TOURIST: WEARING HIKING GEAR SUCH AS A LARGE BACKPACK
This might be one of the biggest fiveways to the fact that someone is a tourist. If you’re in a metropolitan area but are wearing hiking shoes, clothes, and large sporty backpacks, you’re going to stick out. If your trip is an outdoor, adventure trip, then this outfit makes sense. However, if you’re walking around NYC or London in these clothes, you’re likely going to get some stares. While these clothes might be comfortable, you’ll look like a tourist.
5 LOCAL: USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION LIKE A PRO
Depending on where you're visiting, there might be public transportation. This is especially true in bigger cities. Public transit is often the most effective way to get around without spending a ton of money. If you are super obvious or seem super lost on public transit, this will have you reading as a tourist. This doesn't mean you can never ask for help, but it goes a long way to do some research beforehand and try to get a feel for how the system means.
4 TOURIST: SPENDING A LOT OF TIME TAKING PICTURES
When visiting a new area, you want to take pictures of the landmarks and of yourself enjoying the area. Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn’t take any pictures.
However, be aware of the fact that taking tons of pictures or having certain equipment will make you stand out. If you have selfie sticks or point and shoot camera, you will look especially touristy.
3 LOCAL: LEARN HOW TO ORDER LOCAL FAVORITES
Depending on where you're going, you might not know the language. If you’re traveling to a place you can’t speak the language, it’s always a good idea to learn a few things so you can communicate with some basics. One way to really not stick out as a tourist is to learn how to order local foods. Even in countries that speak the same language, regional cuisine might be different than what you’re used to. Learning how to pronounce and order these items will be appreciated by locals.
2 TOURIST: WEARING TOURIST MERCH
Another way to stand out is to wear a ton of items that are clearly meant for tourists. If you’re walking around wearing t-shirts with a bold graphic of the city you’re in, people won’t think you’re local. You should also avoid wearing things like cargo shorts, baggy shirts, and sneakers as this will definitely make you read like you’re a typical tourist.
1 LOOK LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING
One of the biggest ways to seem like a local is to just have confidence. While what you dress like and where you go have an impact, your overall attitude is definitely going to have the biggest impact. If you seem self-assured and like you belong, other people are going to believe that you belong, too. The best way to seem like a local is to not look confused or scared and to instead be confident and self-assured.